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Aug 13, 2007 12:42 PM

Wine with fast food and other shabby-chic combos?

I'd love to expand my food and wine matching tool with more wine and fast food pairings. (I'm a firm believer that wine isn't just for fancy occasions or complicated meals.) I've got several of the more popular fast food meals but I'd love to hear from you on your favorite pairings. Some of mine are:

champagne and potato chips
fried chicken and chardonnay
Tex-Mex and zinfandel


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  1. popcorn and sancerre.
    Supermarket sushi and reisling
    chocolate chip cookies and port (also good with oreos)
    french fries and s. blanc
    chili dogs and merlot

    2 Replies
    1. re: Diana

      fantastic Diana, I'm adding those... they make sense in terms of textures, flavors and weights!

      1. re: Natalie MacLean

        Sushi & Reisling? How about Sushi & Reisling.... Reisling & Spicy Mexican, Thai or Indian

    2. The peppery notes in a loire cabernet franc are an amazing pairing with pepperoni pizza.
      California pinot, of the super fruity variety, is great with cheeseburgers.
      I like cava with my fried chicken. The salty bubbliness goes perfectly. Can't imagine it with chardonnay -- I'll have to give it a try.

      1 Reply
      1. LOVE champagne and potato chips!

        I also really like sake (something light and mild) with Corn Nuts.

        A gourmet friend recommended white zinfandel with buttered popcorn - I haven't tried this yet, but it actually sounds good to me.


        18 Replies
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          I have to try sake and corn nuts. Of course, sake is technically beer, which explains why it works. Salt and beer is a good mix.

          Come to think of it, Anne, you've opened me up to other pairings. Reisling with prawn crackers, Pinot gris with wasabe peas, japanese dried fish or shrimp snacks with a chilled gwurtz or even non-oaky chard.

          1. re: Diana

            Sake's made from grain but it's not beer. There are several significant differences in the brewing process, and the final product is on average about three times as alcoholic as beer.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              the definition beer and wine does not include alchol level. The process used to make sake is different from the average beer, but not all that different. Wine and beermaking are very similar, with the exception of the meaterials fermented.

              A beer is a fermented grain.

              Wine is fermented fruit.

              Sake is made with rice.

              Sake is beer.

              You can find American beers with very high alcohol contents, such as Utopia by sam Adams, and his tripel bock.

              1. re: Diana

                The crucial difference is that for beer, starch is converted to sugar through malting (controlled germination) prior to yeast fermentation, while for sake starch is converted to sugar through koji fermentation (controlled growth of koji mold) both prior to and simultaneously with yeast fermentation.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Seriously, Sake is beer. When we make sake, as when we make beer we get the Koji culture first.

                  Sake often is categorized under special bres, consisting of barley wine, fruit & vegetable beer, herb & spiced beer, smoke-beers, and finally sake.

                  "A traditional Japanese fermented drink made from rice. Contrary to popular belief, sake is not a spirit (it is not distilled), nor is it a wine (it is not macerated), but rather, a special type of beer brewed from a cereal base."

                  Wine is a single fermentation of plant juices, sake is a multiple fermentation of a grain, like beer.

                  With wine, sugar goes to alcohol through fermentation, and it does not require any transition from starch to sugar. The japanese themselves often refer to it as a type of malting.

                  Wine is fermented...sake, like beer, is brewed.

                  Then again, by that definition, I consider both mead and cider a type of wine.

                  Some people argue with that.

                  1. re: Diana

                    Koji's not used to make beer.

                    You can call sake beer but that's pretty misleading since:

                    (1) the combination of koji fermentation and yeast fermentation is unique to sake (and a few distilled beverages such as shochu) and produces distinctive flavors not found in other beverages

                    (2) the vast majority of sakes contain about 18% alcohol, while the vast majority of beers are around 4-6%

                    (3) sake (with rare exceptions) is flat rather than naturally or artificially carbonated like beer

                    (4) with a few exceptions, sake is aged for six months or more before release; most ales should be consumed as soon as possible after brewing, good lager normally doesn't age more than two months

                    (5) sake is never hopped, unhopped beer is extremely rare

                    (6) some sakes are decidedly sweet, most styles of beer are dry

                    Bottom line, while you can find exceptions to the above, generally speaking beer is a hopped, dry, fizzy beverage, while sake is an unhopped, sometimes sweetish, flat beverage with three times as much alcohol.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      And sometimes sake is fizzy, too, just to complicate the situation.

                      Me, I sloppily lump sake in with wine only because my local liquor store features sake in their wine sales, but not in the liquor or beer sales.

                      I guess sake is just sake - not beer and not wine. Vive la difference!


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I KNOW koji's not used to make beer, I make beer, and sake.

                        What I mean is we get the koji, just the way we get the malted grain.

                        1. What does that have to do with sake being wine?

                        2. Some beers get darn high. Utopia is 25%. It is beer brewed by Jim Koch of Sam Adams. In the end it doesn't matter, as alcoholic contend is not part of what designates a beverage as beer or wine.

                        3. there are several "still " beers.

                        4. Ale is just one of many different types of beer. Aging differs for each type and variation. Some beers are not even brewed to any style and are "experimental" or re brews of antique recipes no longer used.

                        some styles are::
                        # 1. LIGHT LAGER
                        # 2. PILSNER
                        # 3. EUROPEAN AMBER LAGER
                        # 4. DARK LAGER
                        # 5. BOCK
                        # 6. LIGHT HYBRID BEER
                        # 7. AMBER HYBRID BEER
                        # 8. ENGLISH PALE ALE
                        # 9. SCOTTISH AND IRISH ALE
                        # 10. AMERICAN ALE
                        # 11. ENGLISH BROWN ALE
                        # 12. PORTER
                        # 13. STOUT
                        # 14. INDIA PALE ALE (IPA)
                        # 15. GERMAN WHEAT AND RYE BEER
                        # 16. BELGIAN AND FRENCH ALE
                        # 17. SOUR ALE
                        # 18. BELGIAN STRONG ALE
                        # 19. STRONG ALE
                        # 20. FRUIT BEER
                        # 21. SPICE / HERB / VEGETABLE BEER
                        # 22. SMOKE-FLAVORED AND WOOD-AGED BEER
                        # 23. SPECIALTY BEER

                        5. Historically, hops are only a recent addition to beer. the german brewing purity law does not even mention hops. Some beers are still unhopped.

                        6. there are several sweet types of beer-fruit enhanced or flavored beers, Holiday beers, stouts, porters, lambics, and so on. Sweetness doth not an unbeer make. There are also several drier sakes.

                        Look, you are just not correct. There are many beers fitting the decrtiptions you say are not beer. There arne't jsut "exceptions" there are hundereds of ears of brewing history, eveolution, styles, methods, and more. there are complete categories of beer styles that you consider "exceptions"

                        Sake= brewed with grain
                        beer = brewed with grain

                        wine= fermented juice (no brewing required)


                        Sake, by definition, brewing process and anything else, is a variation on beer.

                        Plum wine is a wine.

                        barleywine is a beer.

                        Sake is a beer.

                        1. re: Diana

                          If you define beer as "alcoholic beverage brewed from grain," then of course that would include sake, but that's not standard usage in contemporary English:

                          beer: an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavoured with hops ...
                          The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Ed. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson. Oxford University Press, 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Berkeley Public Library. 17 August 2007

                          beer: a malted and hopped somewhat bitter alcoholic beverage; specifically : such a beverage brewed by bottom fermentation -- compare ALE, BOCK BEER, LAGER, PORTER ...
                          Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. (17 Aug. 2007).

                          If by "plum wine" you mean umeshu, it's actually an infusion of unripe ume (actually a kind of apricot) and shochu. Of course people also make "fruit wine" from plums mixed with water and sugar or honey.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Try consulting brewers' or winemakers' or sake makers' guides instead of English dictionaries, which define English words in common usage that may not even be grammatically words but have evolved so because the majority of the local population have incorporated them into the vernacular (heck, now "irregardless" is defined in the dictionary, to a true linguist's disgust.) I personally would rather accept the definitions of those making the product over those who are inserting discussion of it into a large book about language, not about brewing and winemaking!

                            Unfortunately, the writers or the Oxford English Dictionary (though lingual GODS) are not right. Hops, historically are a recent addition to beer. now, from our standpoint, several centuries does not seem recent, but if one thinks about how long humanity has been civilized, or how long the earth has existed, it is a mere blip in time.

                            Your defiinition starts to list beers, but your elipsis means you edited, and the word "compare" is in there.

                            Look, arguing semantics has nothing to do with the reality of what it. Language, and common usage, often ignores or even obfuscates the origin of things. otherwise, how could "terrific" have evolved into something positive? Originally, the word meant something along the lines of "inspiring terror and great fear". The word "nice" originally had a meaning closer to "exact".

                            Standard usage in contemporary English applies little to a Japanese product. Here are a few Japanese definitions from Japanese websites online:

                            The Japanese Liquor Law defines Sake as, "made from rice, rice koji and water using fermentation and filtration processes".

                            "Many people refer to sake as “Japanese rice wine”, but this is a false definition. The sake brewing process is more similar to beer than wine because a yeast is used for fermentation."

                            But heck, let's look at the word from sushi and, a Japanese organization in LA which seeks to bring Japanese culture to the non-japanese:

                            "What makes sake different from all other liquors in the world? The main component of Japanese sake is rice. According to Japanese liquor tax law, sake is defined as being “made from fermented and filtered rice, malted rice malt, and water.” In the U.S., sake is considered a *type of beer under Federal law and a wine under California State law*....An alcoholic beverage is, in brief, a drink made by the fermentation of sugar into alcohol by enzymes. For example, if you add enzymes to grapes, the grapes convert into alcohol and become wine. This process is called a single fermentation.

                            Conversely, grains, such as barley and rice, do not possess sugar for the enzymes to convert into alcohol. Thus, the starch contained in grain is converted into sugar first, and then this sugar is converted into alcohol. This process is called multiple fermentation.

                            How about beer? During germination, malted barley creates its own sugar. Enzymes are then added to it, converting sugar into alcohol. Since it undergoes these two processes of fermentation, it is also a type of multiple fermentation."

                            Heck, I HAVE to say it's beer in my state. It's the Law :)

                            Just Keep It Simple...:
                            Brewed and then fermented from grains= beer.
                            Fermented from juice= wine (notice the lack of brewing, malting or converting starch to sugars.

                            Alcohol content is not a factor. Many beers have high alcohol contents

                            Carbonation is not a factor (there are uncarbonated beers, and carbonated sakes! (my favorite sparkling sake is Poochi-Poochi!) Lets not forget Champagne, Sparkling whites and Prosecco-all wines.

                            Sweetness or dryness is not a factor

                            Lets not talk about spirits, which add the distilling process. Believe it or not, many of the sakes we drink actually add a little distilled alcohol during fermentation. This is not considered traditional, but I imagine few sake drinkers in the US have actually tasted a sake brewed the traditional way.

                            In the end, definitions are subjective, slippery things best avoided.

                            What we both agree on is that when made right, no matter it be beer or wine, sake is GOOD! :)

                            1. re: Diana

                              Dictionaries are simply a guide to common usage.

                              If I order a beer and somebody brings me sake, that's a problem.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Exactly, dictionaries describe the vernacular of any given language, they do not say whether the vernacular connotations and denotations of one language about the objects from other countries are accurate. But I would assume that brewers worldwide whom have agreed upon what is what are accurate.

                                Well, duh about the bartender bringing you sake instead of whatever other type of beer you ordered, because you would order a type of beer. If I sat down at a bar and ordered a Bison chocolate stout and someone brought me a G Joy or Momokawa pearl (or even some higher -end Riahku nigorizake, YUM!) I'd be upset, because the bartender screwed my order. I love a good nigorizake, but it is just not Bison Chocolate Stout. I would be also very hopeful that the bartender might think of comping me the sake for later! ;)

                                If I order chicken fricasse and end up with chicken piccata, I'd be miffed, too!

                                No one goes into an establishment and says "I want a beer". Most bartenders would look at you sort of skewed and ask "yeah, which one". If you tell him you want a Racer 5 and he brings you Daishichi Minowamon "The Gate" Junmai dai Gingo, you would probably be surprised. Then again, if that were the case, I would reccommend trying the Daishichi..that's good stuff!

                                1. re: Diana

                                  Not that technical vocabulary is appropriate in everyday conversation, but sake brewers don't consider it a kind of beer.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    All the sake brewers I know do.. but they also brew beer. Their homebrewers...

                                    Then again, a lot of pros do too. And then some don't

                                    I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. As I said a few posts up...whatever it be, sake is GOOD!

              2. re: Diana

                Fun thread.

                Fino sherry and corn nuts (or what they call kikos here) go well together, too. In fact fino or manzanilla go great with all sorts of salty snacks: potato chips, peanuts, olives, almonds, etc. Albariño and potato chips....

                A while back I had pedro ximenez and oreos and I thought it worked...

                What about cheetos?

                1. re: butterfly

                  Right, cheddar cheetos with a great Cabernet... who needs prime rib anymore :)

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    When I was in the US this summer we "paired" spicy cheez-its with a not-so-great Cabernet... We all agreed that the cheez-its improved the flavor exponentially. I miss cheez-its.

              3. re: AnneInMpls

                " ... white zinfandel with buttered popcorn ..."

                mmm, it is good.

              4. Cabernet with a cheddar mushroom burger.

                Pinot Noir with a Cuban Sandwich

                Chardonnay with Tuna Salad sand.

                1. Modern CA Cab and a good hamburger.

                  Hell, I think that is Bob Bressler's favorite meal!

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